Montana, USA 2018

The first time that I set foot in Montana, I knew I was in a very special place. It was not just the majesty of the scenery, it was the characters that lived there. I have long had a visceral attraction to the Wild West and no State embodies the final frontier of America more than Montana. In the hills in the winter, there is a sense of timelessness. The clock seemingly stopped about 100 years ago.
We have spent the last few years networking in a village in the mountains. I have been there seven times and we have invested emotionally as well as financially in order to be able to tell stories with the camera. This week – on Robbie Burns night – appropriately enough – we had our reward. There was no point attempting this without a solid base of locals that genuinely wanted to help.
I know this bar in the mountains inside out and the locals know me. Everyone wanted a role
in the shoot, but we had to be selective. I wanted ex-convicts, wolf wranglers, wannabe Davey Crocketts and crazy old mountain men that are drunk by 11 am. But it needed more – the barmaid had to have the right look – as she would be pivotal to the image – as would the chosen mountain man. It would be a key juxtaposition. I found the girl – Roxanna Redfoot (what a name) – from Dallas and she was brilliant.
I knew I could rely on the wolf – I have worked with him before and so long as he didn’t lose interest, I had a chance. But there is no light in the bar – so it is all seat-of-the-pants stuff technically – there was no margin for error in focus. A flash gun would destroy the emotion and sense of place.
As I expected, most of the photographs were not sharp or someone messed up (including me). The composition, however, was always bang on, I just needed one stroke of luck – 1/125th
of a second that would capture Montana. I think we nailed it!
“The Usual Suspects”…indeed.


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